Prominent Israeli Lawyer Who Represented Netanyahu Dies at 71

Jacob Weinroth was part of Netanyahu's defense team in the 1000 and 2000 corruption cases. 'Jacob was miraculous in his personality, his wisdom, his intellect,' Netanyahu tweets

Jacob Weinroth.
Daniel Bar-On

Jacob Weinroth, one of Israel's leading lawyers, who represented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, died of cancer on Tuesday at age 71. His funeral was held in Netanya.

Netanyahu eulogized Weinroth at his funeral, saying: "Sara and I are overwhelmed by grief. Many in this country are overwhelmed by gried. The public feels that a great man has left us, a unique personage, a jurist who in certain ways was one-of-a-kind, and it's doubtful that there will ever be one like him again in these parts.

"I don't think we will ever meet anyone like him," he continued. "But I see it as a great privilege that he was like a friend and a brother throughout my life. Farewell, Yankel. Farewell, our dear friend. It was such a pleasure. You will always be in our hearts. We will remember you forever."

Earlier, Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: "My wife and I are saddened about the passing of our loved one Jacob Weinroth. Jacob was miraculous in his personality, his wisdom, his intellect, his sense of justice and his loyalty to his people. It is a great loss to his family, his acquaintances and cherished, and it is a huge loss to the world of Israeli law."

Weinroth was famous for representing many senior figures in Israeli politics. In addition to the prime minister, three other current cabinet members, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Arye Dery and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, were also represented by Weinroth. The late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and late President Ezer Weizman were also among Weinroth's clients.

Born in a displaced persons' camp in Germany in 1947 to a family from Poland, Weinroth and his family moved to Israel when he was 2 and settled in Netanya. His family was relatively observant, but he chose to enroll in ultra-Orthodox yeshivas. With the outbreak of the Six-Day War, however, he enlisted in the Israeli army.

Weinroth was a study in contrasts in other respects. Although as a lawyer he represented many of Israel's wealthiest and most influential citizens, he said in his younger years, he was fascinated by the writings of Karl Marx.

"I never managed to make total peace between the worlds that I live in," he once said in an interview. "This schism exists inside of me undoubtedly. I am always somehow trying to reconcile these parts of my personality and probably never will, but I'm not prepared to forgo any part of my personality."

Following his military service, he studied law at Tel Aviv University, completed a doctorate and also studied math and philosophy. He then went into private practice of law. He opened his own firm in the mid-1970s, which over the years became highly profitable. In 1991, he was approached about serving on the Supreme Court, but declined.

During Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister, in 1997, his administration was rocked – and nearly brought down – by an influence-peddling scandal dubbed the “Bar-On-Hebron affair,” which Weinroth worked on. Weinroth was later part of Netanyahu's defense team in the 1000 and 2000 corruption cases, investigations that are still under way. 

In 2009, Weinroth himself was indicted on suspicions of bribery and money laundering, but two years later was acquitted of all charges.